The Good Samaritan - You can't work your way to heaven. ............................................... ggggggggggg.. .Passage: Luke 10:5-37

Introduction:..............................[point one] [point two] [point three]..

The little boy stood beside his dad in the garage. For days the little boy had been trying to fix his bicycle but with no success.

In stubborn pride the little chap had scorned his dad's previous offer to do it for him. Stubbornly he had tried to do it for himself, but he simply couldn't

And now as his dad with a glint in his eye gives a long list of detailed mechanical information, which is not only going to take skill to perform but muscle power that the little boy doesn't have, the boy's pride subsides and he says dad, I can't, will you do it for me.

Now I am sure that all of us have been in some situation like that, where we thought that we could do something but came to be aware that we couldn't and needed someone else to do it for us

Let me read you tonight a story from the Bible where a man came to Jesus one day thinking that he could do something but Jesus showed him that he couldn't

Read Luke 10:25-37

If you are not yet a Christian tonight Jesus told the famous parable of the Good Samaritan especially for people like you.

And He told it with the purpose that you like the little boy in the garage will come to see that you can't do something yourself and that you will cry out to God.

Jesus told this story primarily so that people will see that they can't get to heaven by their so called good works.

He told it that people would stop trusting in themselves and turn to Jesus Christ and receive through personal faith and repentance the new life He has to offer.

This parable also speaks to anyone who has become a Christian and says here is how you and I are now to live in thanksgiving to God for His mercy towards us.

The first thing that we note in this portion of the Bible is:

1. An interesting question: [top]

It seemed that as Jesus was talking one day a questioner approached him.

v25 "And behold a certain lawyer stood up and tempted Him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life."

It was a good question on the surface of things wasn't it, in fact in some ways there is no more important question that someone could ask. Here is a man who seems concerned for his soul, wants to know how to get to heaven.

Isn't it interesting that people can ask so many questions in life about this and that and never ask the most important question, how can I as a sinner become right with the God who has made me.

But although this question was of itself a good question it wasn't quite right was it, there was something intrinsically wrong about it.

And we get that sense that all is not right when we see how the Lord Jesus responded to this man.

How would you have responded, someone asks what must I do to get to heaven. Well if this man had asked me, I would have been right in there, "You need to be saved, you need to go to Jesus, acknowledge you are a sinner, trust in His finished work on the cross to deal with your sin. Come to Him now and He'll save you."

But Jesus doesn't do that. Had Jesus not read all the books on how to know and tell the gospel?

No Jesus answers the man's question by asking him a question, v26 "What it written in the law ... how do you read it."

You see this was most probably a trick question that the man asked and Jesus could see the man's motive. It seems that this expert in the law was looking for Jesus to answer in a way that would mount up to blasphemy and they could get rid of Jesus.

Jesus wasn't yet ready to reveal Himself in a way that would lead to His death, His time had not yet come.

And so Jesus directs Him back to the law the very thing that he was hoping that Jesus would say something against and then they would have Him.

You see the man's initial question was a leading question, it was a question with a hidden agenda. You've had them haven't you.

And as Jesus asks the man a question in return, he wants the man to answer it. "How do you read it."

The word Jesus uses here for read it means to read aloud. Jesus was saying to the man - when you read out the Bible in church what does it say.

Can we see what Jesus was doing here - He was making this man with his trick question face up to an important truth.

And Jesus in His great love for sinners wants you to face up to the truth today, He wants you to lay aside all your questions that are off track and get down to really important spiritual questions.

What sort of questions are you asking Jesus today in your heart? Speaking with a teenage girl at weekend - so many questions - where did God come from, why did sin have to come into the world? The question that Jesus wants you to think about is - what does His law say?

The expert in the law's reply is right on the button, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbour as yourself."

If his dad could have heard him, how proud he would have been. Text book answer. He had been taught these verses from infancy, quotes from the law of God in Deut & Leviticus, they were engrained in his mind and fell off his tongue with ease, he was after all an expert in the law.

And Jesus tells Him without any further comment, v28 "do this and you will live."

The tense of the verb says do so continually&ldots;..keep on doing so.

It is as if Jesus says to the expert, you want to know what you have to DO if you want to get to heaven.

Then keep God's law, keep the commandments perfectly, those ones directed towards God and those ones directed towards man, keep them all continually, and perfectly and you will live.

"Do this and you will live."

What a marvelous reply of the Lord. He is speaking to a man who believes that he can get right with God by keeping God's law - by DOING.

And so Jesus says to Him - Ok so you think you can sort things out between you and God by obeying the commandments, that your best effort is good enough. Then practice what you preach.

You see friends what Jesus wants this expert in the law to grasp is that it is impossible to keep the law the way God requires.

He wants to show this man that sinners are saved not by works but by grace, by God's free unmerited gift of salvation to needy sinners.

Perhaps you are here tonight and you are still thinking that if you could weigh the balance of good things in your favour then you could get in to God's good books.

Or perhaps you imagine that you are already in God's good books because you are decent and never done as you imagine anyone any harm so to speak.

If you want to leave Jesus out of the equation fine - you have another option Jesus is saying - without ever slipping up love God in the way He has prescribed and love everyone else in the world the way you should. "this do and thou shalt live,"

Of course the trouble is you can't

2. A Simple Illustration [top]

The lawyer is rather peeved with the Lord's reply, perhaps you are too. And to try and duck what Jesus is saying to him, what Jesus is hitting him between the eyes with the lawyer tries to divert the attention away from himself.

"But he wanting to justify himself said to Jesus, And who is my neighbour?" v29

It seems that this man was struck by what Jesus had said, it seems that he suddenly felt the force of God's Word that he could never keep the law. But he is panicing that he is uncovered so he asks another question as a cover up. Jesus define the limit? - Who is my neighbour?

Again in reply Jesus doesn't answer his question, but tells the famous parable of the Good Samaritan and then at the end asks the man to interpret the parable.

Isn't it the most mind capturing vivid illustration. The people who were listening that day would have known this road only too well, if they had had newspaper reports - bandit attacks on this road would have been headline news every day

It was a dangerous road to travel. It was bandit alley. The two places were not that far apart, about 18 miles. But it was a steep road, Jericho being 1000 feet below sea level and Jerusalem 3000 above sea level.

The limestone rocks of the area had been carved into steep sided gullies ideal territory for hold ups by bandits.

Along this road a certain man was given a real beating, mugged and left for dead. But things were looking up, two religious men were coming along - a priest and a levite - but they didn't want to get involved and so both passed by on the other side.

No doubt they conjured up some well sounding excuses to leave this man dying in a growing pool of his own blood. They passed by even though their law said they should stop Ex 23v4&5 even though just been to church.

But them Jesus said v33 "But a certain Samaritan as he journeyed came he was. And when he saw him had compassion on him."

You will know I am sure that the Jews and Samaritans hated and indeed still loathe each other.

The hatred and prejudices had historic roots. The Samaritans were descendants of the 10 tribes who had revolted againsts Jeroboam in 922BC.

Later in their history they had intermarried with Assyrians. They were half breeds as afar as Jews concerned, compromisers. The Jews and Samaritans hated and despised each other.

It is rather ironic that in Jesus story it is a Samaritan that comes to the rescue - who takes pity, who acts in compassion and persisted in the care of the victim at great personal cost.

This is the sort of love that we need in Northern Ireland isn't it. The sort of love and care and compassion that reaches out to people who are the other sort.

This sort of love that takes risks and involves personal cost and true compassion is the only peace remedy for a land torn apart by hatred and prejudice for generations.

This is the type of peace plan that will succeed. But the trouble is that men and women by nature cannot love like this. That is why Jesus told this parable.

The expert in the law had come wanting to set limits to who his neighbour would be. Wanting to indulge in some theoretical intellectual gymnastics. But Jesus is saying ah no you don't do that. A neighbour is anyone who needs help, no matter who they are.

And so Jesus forces this expert into a corner, "So which of these three do you think was a neighbour to him who fell among the thieves?" v36

And the expert can't even say Samaritan - it sticks in his throat and all he can reply is "he who showed mercy on him."

And then come Jesus final shots across the bows of the man's conscience - v37 "go and do likewise."

Do we see the Lord's argument. Here is a man saying he can earn heaven, by trying to be decent. And Jesus is saying OK you want to try that route - then love everyone like this Samaritan did.

Maybe you are here this tonight and so far you have not entered into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you are trying to work your way to heaven. Many so-called Protestants fall into that trap.

Well you can work your way to heaven if you can love like this Samaritan did all of the time. You can't, you haven't, you won't. Did you jump immediately the meal was finished tonight to help with the dishes? That neighbour who has been in such bother - did you go to help? That terrorist who walked free from prison - did you love him, pray for everyone that came through those revolling gates - love your neighbour as yourself.

Have you loved God with all that you are all of the time always putting Him at the centre of your life.

Jesus wants you to come to your senses - YOU CAN'T DP IT and go to Him for new life. It is only when we have received new hearts that we can really begin to love God and our neighbour as ourself.

And there is a challenge here too for the true Xn.

Friends if we claim to have been made anew by Jesus Christ we should be learning to develop the love that this Samaritan displayed for it is the love that Jesus says we should have for others.

A loving care that does not hinge on someone's background, a compassion that is not hampered by that fact that someone else has different opinions and ideas than us.

Go and do likewise Jesus says to us. Live like the man who showed true mercy, don't stop to ask about someone's background, don't worry what others say - just do it.

This expert in the law was a man who helped only his friends. Jesus says love also your enemies. This expert was stuck in the past. Jesus was saying don't live in your past prejudices.

And friends if we are not seeking to live as Jesus said we are to live then we have no Scriptural reason for believing that we are saved at all.

3. A Great Solution [top]

Jesus ultimate purpose in this parable was to show people who thought they could get right with God by what they do that that is totally impossible.

He told this parable so that people could see that by nature we cannot live the way Jesus said we should, it is a parable to shake the idea of working our way to heaven out of our minds.

But perhaps we ask well if we can't DO something to inherit eternal life is there hope for sinners.

And of course the answer is yes. You see Jesus is the ultimate Good Samaritan. He came to rescue people who were his vowed enemies.

How do we receive what Jesus has to offer? Not by DOING but by turning away from sin and placing our trust in Jesus as our personal Saviour.

This parable is left without a conclusion, we are not told how the man responded to Jesus clear teaching. Did he react in the right way or go off in a huff at having been shown his sin.

How do you finish off the parable? You write in the ending friends from your life - and make it the proper ending - Lord I see how foolish I have been to imagine that I could earn my way to heaven, forgive me for the insult that I have caused you, forgive my foolishness forgetting about you and death, forgive my pride resting on own religious efforts.

I see my sin now Lord, I see that Jesus is the answer, be my Saviour Lord, cleanse me on the grounds of all that Jesus achieved on Calvary, take me in to your family.

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